In the past, we’ve looked at some excellent places for freelance marketers and developers to hang out with others to exchange tips and share experiences. This week we’re going to look at similar locations for those in the design and graphics community. There are quite a few groups and avenues you can take in developing your online community.
Here are a few to kickstart your journey:
Design portfolio communities
There are places that look like a freelance community but usually disappear after a few comments and likes. Some of these places do offer freelancers places to network behind the scenes, but that’s not the primary purpose of a portfolio site. So make sure you choose the right community.
There are quite a few options and you can find yours on the web and on your phone. Most portfolio sites also have a job board or a way for clients to contact freelancers for hire. So, while they offer benefits that you should explore, be careful if you go this route as your first choice for a community. Remember, we’re looking for places where freelancers can talk to other freelancers.
But make sure you start your exploration with big names like Behance and Dribbble, these are excellent places to start as a way to showcase your work and connect with other creators. Others, like Coroflot, give you more insight into salaries and jobs than community interaction. Meanwhile, Deviant Art touts itself as the largest online gallery and art community. If you’re having trouble determining which community is best for you, research the community’s best practices and preferences.
Graphic Design Forums
It’s probably no surprise that when a graphic designer wants to leave, they don’t want to be surrounded by graphics. There is another older forum from the online era that is quite active and respected in the designer community, aptly named Graphic design forum. As with any old style forum, you have to lurk for a while to understand how the group works. Still, these are great places to get your feet wet and feel pity. Both are still quite active. Unfortunately, there are also references to many other forums that have since died out all over the internet. Such is the case with older communication styles.
On the other hand, there is one modern site that is a forum of forums: Reddit. Reddit has a graphic design community with just over 100,000 subscribers. You can find it at:
Reddit’s graphic design subreddit. Check their sidebar for a plethora of related subreddits that can help you find the right niche of designers to suit your style. Fair warning though! If you’ve never used Reddit, you’ll find that you spend more time reading posts and commenting than design work.
Slack for designers
Again, Slack is emerging as the place for freelancers to feel sorry. Slack has very strong freelance communities and much stronger protections than a traditional forum. Often you have to jump through a few hoops to prove that you are a member of the community rather than a spammer or someone who wants to post a job. These are the Slack groups you should look for as a graphic designer. Please note that some of these links lead to sign up forms:
Many of the developer sites also overlap with design, especially for front-end development. If website and mobile interface designs interest you, head back to our developer articles and search for forums dedicated to front-end development, as well as UI/UX.
Facebook for designers
Facebook falls short for most freelancing communities. Why? They are too easily infiltrated by people who want to do business or are looking for a freelancer instead of talking about a shop. And the ones that do have quality are often private groups that you can’t find with a normal search. However, a good place to start is to find closed groups on Facebook related to your niche, and there are a few open groups that are worth checking out. For designers, here are a few potential candidates:
And good, graphic design
Professional design organizations
Design is an old discipline, so there are many professional organizations for different design niches. Probably the most respected is the AIGA, the American Institute of Graphic Arts. But there are many others. In the interest of space, we refer you to this list of professional design organizations made by UCLA. Another idea is to find a mentor. Although it’s not really a community, you can work with them to network further in the community. By doing this, you are building a community that is more like the designers of the older era.
We hope you find in this article a community that is perfect for your design niche. Do you have a freelance designer community you’d like to recommend? Leave a comment below and let us know.